Exclusive: Melissa Van Dyke on Creative Group’s New Ownership

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Creative Group’s Melissa Van Dyke speaks to Prevue about moving forward under new ownership.

Venture capitalist Steve Singh, founder of Concur, acquired travel management company Direct Travel with a group of other investors earlier this month. Where does that leave incentive and events industry giant Creative Group, a wholly owned subsidiary? Prevue caught up with Melissa Van Dyke, Creative Group’s Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Innovation, to get the skinny.

Prevue: How will Creative Group move forward under new ownership?
Van Dyke:
We are excited about this new ownership and look forward to a focus on aggressive growth and innovation while maintaining our collective goal of impeccable customer service.

Prevue: What specific resources, technology and innovations do you foresee?
Van Dyke:
Our relationship with the new owners is just beginning.  Specific resources, technologies and innovations grown from this partnership will come later. What is clear now, however, is that there is a strong partnership and intent to grow the meetings and events side of the business via all addressable channels.

Prevue: What are you most excited about?
Van Dyke:
As a leadership team one of the things we are most excited about is how well the culture of the new ownership mirrors our own. Their focus on growth and innovation—in technology, process and partnerships—is balanced with a strong focus on customer service and maintaining a healthy workplace culture.  Anyone close to Creative Group knows how greatly we value our 49/51 service culture and core values. They have been foundational to our own growth and our customer-focused innovation.  We are excited not only about what the merging of such great talent and resources will mean to our own innovation pipeline, but also about how our foundational culture will continue to act as an accelerant.

Prevue: Can you elaborate on the meaning of a 49/51 service culture?
Van Dyke:
The 49/51 service culture is how we at Creative Group refer to the importance of not just the “what” gets done, but also the “how.” Success at Creative Group revolves not only around the technical skills of the job (the 49%), but also the soft skills and emotional intelligence to lead, guide and consult our clients throughout their journey with us (the 51%). We have a great deal of training and accountability structures around ensuring all talents are not just increasing their meeting planning and operational skills (the 49%), but also increasing their capacity to show up with heart and curiosity (51%). The 51% emphasizes the weight we put on how skills are delivered, not just that they exist.

Prevue: What do you see as the 3 most important trends in group incentive travel moving forward?
Van Dyke:
As I sit with our clients and our talents, I would say the three most important trends in group incentive travel moving forward would be 1) intentional creation of shared emotional experiences for increasingly diverse attendee populations; 2) the recalibration of top performer earner rules structures to meet changing business needs; and 3) strategic deployment of new technologies to enhance the attendee journey.

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